HP to Shut Down Its Helion Public Cloud in January

The vendor will cede the market to the likes of AWS and Microsoft, but will expand its offerings to help customers adopt hybrid clouds.

HP Helion Public Cloud

Hewlett-Packard has given up competing against the likes of Amazon Web Services, announcing that it will shut down its Helion public cloud early next year and focus its efforts on helping customers with their hybrid cloud ambitions.

In a post on the company blog Oct. 21, Bill Hilf, senior vice president and general manager of HP's cloud business, said the company will shutter its public cloud Jan. 31, 2016, and will work with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft and other public cloud providers in creating hybrid cloud environments for businesses.

There had been speculation earlier this year that HP would eventually shutter its OpenStack-based public cloud after being unable to compete with other providers. The New York Times raised the issue when it quoted Hilf as saying that "we thought people would rent or buy computing from us. It turns out that it makes no sense for us to go head-to-head."

Hilf and other HP executives quickly backtracked the statement, saying the company had no intention of ceding the public cloud space to AWS and others, pointing to several companies—including Deutsche Bank and Telefonica—that were using the service.

However, that has now changed six months later. In the blog, Hilf positioned the decision as one driven by customer demand for hybrid cloud environments and the belief that HP could best serve the businesses by using their technology to help them build their private cloud infrastructures and let AWS and Microsoft serve their public cloud needs.

"The market for hybrid infrastructure is evolving quickly," he wrote. "Today, our customers are consistently telling us that in order to meet their full spectrum of needs, they want a hybrid combination of efficiently managed traditional IT and private cloud, as well as access to SaaS [software-as-a-service] applications and public cloud capabilities for certain workloads. In addition, they are pushing for delivery of these solutions faster than ever before. With these customer needs in mind, we have made the decision to double-down on our private and managed cloud capabilities."

For businesses that want to run some of their workloads in the public cloud, "we have already added greater support for Amazon Web Services as part of our hybrid delivery with HP Helion Eucalyptus, and we have worked with Microsoft to support Office 365 and Azure. We also support our PaaS customers wherever they want to run our Cloud Foundry platform—in their own private clouds, in our managed cloud, or in a large-scale public cloud such as AWS or Azure."

HP's decision comes as rivals make moves of their own to bolster their own hybrid cloud portfolios. At the Dell World 2015 show this week in Austin, Texas, Dell and Microsoft announced a new platform designed to reduce the risks, costs and complexities for companies that want to embrace hybrid clouds. In addition, CEO Michael Dell has said often that the world is turning to hybrid clouds as companies look for ways to make their infrastructures more scalable and responsive to changing business demands, and that his proposed $67 billion bid for storage giant EMC—and its VMware and Virtustream businesses—will grow Dell's hybrid cloud capabilities.

For their part, EMC and VMware officials announced this week that they were spinning out Virtustream to create a jointly-owned company that will focus on hybrid clouds.

In hybrid cloud environments, businesses build on-premises private cloud infrastructures with automation and management software while at the same time running some workloads in public clouds. They turn to vendors like Dell, EMC and HP for the on-premises products and for the software to manage the relationship between the private and public clouds.

HP's Hilf said the company will continue to build out its Helion OpenStack platform for private clouds, noting that the company's Helion CloudSystem solution continues to see double-digit growth.

"On the cloud services side, we will focus our resources on our Managed and Virtual Private Cloud offerings," he wrote. "These offerings will continue to expand, and we will have some very exciting announcements on these fronts in the coming weeks."

The move comes less than two weeks before HP splits in two, with one company—Hewlett-Packard Enterprise—focusing on enterprise IT solutions and services, including the cloud, and the other—HP Inc.—selling PCs and printers.